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Germany’s software giant SAP keeps its Russian clients despite claims it shut down cloud services in Russia

April 5, 2022 6:26 amby Anna Myroniuk
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Sign for German software company SAP is featured in the Bishop Ranch office park in San Ramon, California, on October 20, 2017. (Gado/Getty Images)

The German software giant SAP appears to have been hypocritical about its promises to stop providing cloud services to Russian clients over Russia's war in Ukraine.

According to a document obtained by the Kyiv Independent, just a day before the company’s public announcement to shut down its cloud services in Russia, SAP had sent its Russian customers a letter offering to migrate their data outside of Russia in order to maintain access to its services.

SAP had not responded to the Kyiv Independent’s request for comment by the time of publication.

Sent on March 23 by SAP's Executive Board, the letter says that the company will be unable to service its data centers in Russia and recommends that Russian clients move their cloud data to centers located outside the country.

“Many factors, including the loss of redundancy, supply chain issues and the inability to secure service and support, are prompting us to actively plan to manage your solutions outside of Russia,” the letter reads.

SAP offered the migration option to Russian clients free of charge.  

“We are striving to uphold our commitments to your business during these extraordinary times and appreciate your partnership to achieve the greatest possible outcome for your business,” the letter reads.

The document does not mention Russia’s war against Ukraine, which has ostensibly been the reason for the mass exodus of international companies from Russia.

The letter’s tone drastically contrasts SAP’s public statements regarding Russia’s war.

On March 24, SAP issued a press release saying: “Russia’s ongoing unjustified war is a heartbreaking display of brutality and a violation of the fundamental principle of freedom that we share with Ukraine.”

“We remain steadfast in our commitment to support Ukraine by stopping all sales and shutting down cloud operations in Russia,” the statement reads. 

SAP has a handful of notorious clients in Russia. They include energy companies Gazprom and Rosneft, Sberbank, Rosselkhozbank, and VTB Bank, all of which are under economic sanctions imposed by the U.S., EU and U.K. over Russia’s war against Ukraine.

In a March 2 public statement, SAP’s Chief Christian Klein said the company was stopping business in Russia and Belarus to align with sanctions and pausing all sales of its services and products in Russia and Belarus. The company, however, did not address whether Russian and Belarusian businesses could continue using its services under existing contracts.

Anna Myroniuk
Author: Anna Myroniuk

Anna Myroniuk is the head of investigations at the Kyiv Independent. Anna has run investigative projects on human rights, healthcare and illicit trade. She investigated presidents and oligarchs. She has written for New York Times, Washington Post, Coda Story and OCCRP. Anna holds a Masters in Investigative Journalism from the City University of London. She is a Chevening Scholar, a finalist of the 2020 Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, an honoree of the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Media & Marketing list, and the runner-up in the investigative reporting category of the 2022 European Press Prize.